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Benji the Hunted

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Benji the Hunted

Benji the Hunted is a 1987 children's film about a dog trying to survive in the wilderness. It was released by Walt Disney Pictures. This was the last Benji movie to star Benjean in the title role.

Plot

Benji has become lost in a remote area of Oregon after a boating accident. He finds himself struggling to survive in the wilderness, avoiding close encounters with a timber wolf, a brown bear, and a territorial female cougar with her cub. Benji made friends with other animals including a Great Horned Owl, a deer, a Red Fox and a raccoon.

Shortly after washing ashore, Benji sees a cougar gunned down by a hunter. Benji attempts to comfort the dying animal, but he is chased away by the hunter, who then retrieves the dead cat and marches off with it draped over his shoulders. Benji subsequently encounters four orphaned cougar cubs, belonging to the killed cougar, and he attempts to shield them from predation. He finds another mother cougar and spends most of the movie trying to introduce the orphans to the mother so she will adopt them. Meanwhile, Benji's master is searching for him by helicopter and Benji deliberately hides so as not to be prevented from saving the cubs.

A black timber wolf, relentlessly pursuing the cubs, is one of the main antagonists and highlights of the film. In one of the film's more tragic scenes, one of the cubs is carried off by a bird of prey. In the final encounter and chase with the wolf, Benji tricks the wolf by hiding in the bushes that shields the cliff behind it and sends the wolf flying off the cliff, becoming the victim of his own misjudgment.

Benji ultimately succeeds in having the mother cougar adopt the cubs and in the final scene heads in the direction of the search helicopter to be rescued.

Apart from a news report at the beginning of the movie setting up the plot, the scene with Benji's owner, and three short encounters with the hunter, the action is entirely animal activity in the wilderness and dialogue-free.

Cast

  • Benjean (daughter of Higgins) as Benji
  • Frank Inn ... Himself
  • Red Steagall ... Hunter
  • Nancy Francis ... Mary Beth McLaulin
  • Joe Camp ... TV Director (voice)
  • Steve Zanolini ... Producer (voice)
  • Mike Francis ... TV Cameraman
  • Ben Vaughn ... Engineer's hand
  • Karen Thorndike ... Countdown (voice)
  • Guy Hovis ... The Balladeer (voice)

Production Credits

  • Directed by Joe Camp
  • Produced by Ben Vaughn
  • Written by Joe Camp
  • Music by Betty Box, Euel Box
  • Cinematography Don Reddy
  • Editing by Karen Thorndike
  • Distributed by Walt Disney Pictures
  • Buena Vista Distribution
  • Release date(s) June 5, 1987
  • Running time 88 minutes
  • Box office $22,257,624

Filming

The movie was filmed entirely on location in Oregon and Table Mountain, in Washington near the town of Cascade Locks.

Trivia

This was the last Benji movie to star Benjean in the title role. The plot took advantage of the fact that although the character she played was male, she was a female, and she was able to convey tender motherly feelings for other small animals. They trained the animals before the movie started. They needed no technology except for the camera shots.

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